PASTOR OCK SOO PARK

  • First Fruit at Apgok-dong

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    In 1963, I was staying at a village called, “Saeteo” in Apgok-dong and witnessing the gospel. One day, a young man called me early in the morning, “Minister, minister!” because a young man, who had gone to the army from his village, worked as a driver in the army and died in an accident, and his corpse was sent to the village. According to the tradition of the village, a person who died outside the village cannot come into the village, so they placed the corpse outside the village. Not knowing how to go about the funeral, the villagers discussed what to do. “There is a minister living across from our village, so let’s do it the church way,” and he came to ask me to lead the funeral. I was often starving during that time, so I was able to eat well and lead the funeral.

     

    Since then, I went to the village, called “Apshil,” every Thursday and preached the Word. I would visit houses all afternoon to witness, and during dinner time, I would sit in the woods to take a rest and pray. It was because the chief of the village told me that everyone in the village was so poor that if I were to ask for a spoonful of rice, then I would be kicked out of the village right away. When dinner time is over, I would gather people in a small room to preach the Word, and come back home late at night as I crossed over the mountain. At the time, there were many animals in the mountain, so the road was very dangerous.

    Soon, there were many more people who listened to the Word, so I moved from Saeteo to Apshil. I rented a small room in a house and preached the gospel. I spent most of my morning reading the Bible. One day, someone visited the landlady. In the countryside, it is so quiet that one could hear a chicken crowing or a dog barking, and as the landlady was sitting on the floor, smoking, a lady came, and they spoke to one another.

    “Hey, you came.”

    “Yes, has someone moved into the room?”

    “Yes, it’s the minister of a church.”

    “Minister? When did he move in?”

    The lady asked about me in detail. I thought that she was surely a person who believed in Jesus. There was no reason why she would ask so much about a minister being there, so I took the Bible and stepped out.

    “Lady, do you believe in Jesus?”

    “No, I don’t believe Him.”

    Although she insisted that she did not believe, I thought of her as someone who believed, and opened the Bible and preached the gospel. She put aside her package and listened to the Word. Her spirit was so poor that she listened to the Word for few hours as if she was out of her senses and with a blank look on her face. She was able to receive the assurance of salvation.

    While I was in Apgok-dong, I preached the gospel to people and had a Bible study. There was no one who opened his heart and received salvation, but she was the first one to be assured of salvation. As she received salvation, the two of us became one-hearted, and we were very happy. While she was in great difficulties in living life, Sister Eul-soon Sohn was so happy to have received salvation. I was also very happy that she opened her heart wide and accepted the gospel because during that time, no matter how much I preached the Word, people would only be speculators, and they would not open their hearts to accept it.

    Later on, she told me why she said that she did not believe in Jesus. “I thought that if someone who believes in Jesus lives so poorly like me, then it would cover the glory of God. So, I purposely said that I did not believe in Him.” Afterwards, I often went to Sister Sohn’s house and preached the Word, and she would often come to my house to have a Bible study. She told me from time to time, “On the way going back home late at night, I met a fox, and I had a hard time.” “I met a wolf as I was coming here early in the morning.” I prayed for the sister every day, and as I read the Bible, I had the heart, “I should preach this Word to the sister.”

     

    Sister Sohn’s husband was a blind, and her house was very shabby. Although I would point out sin through the Word, he would smile and say, “What kind of sin would I have?” He was a very good man, so I could never see him get angry. Thus, I could not preach the gospel. One day, when I visited him with the Bible, he would quickly crawl out of the room. “Minister, you’ve come!” He was a person who would not move at all from where he sat and had no reaction to what I was saying, except blinking his eyes, but his heart was totally changed.

    The night before, a dike collapsed due to heavy rain, and water was coming into the room, while Sister Sohn went out to sell. Usually, when she goes out to other villages to sell, she would come back in a week or 10 days. No matter how much he yelled out, it was no use because the house was outside the village, isolated. Not being able to see anything, he had been going about this room to the other room all night long with his children in his arms. He had the heart, “I will cause my children to die today.” So, he said, “God, help me! Please help me, God!”

    Then, he remembered what I told him, “God does not hear sinners.” So, he had spent the night, regretting, “Why did I not receive salvation by saying to the minister that I had no sin?” Fortunately, the rain stopped, and the water subsided the next day. That was when I visited him, so he called me, “Minister!” and grabbed my hand. That day, I preached the gospel, and he received salvation. Later on, all of his sons and daughters received salvation and received change.

     

    After staying in Apgok-dong for about three years, the Lord had sent me to Geochang. Before I moved there, I should have greeted to Sister Sohn, but because she went out for selling, I could not meet with her. I waited for a few more days, but I could not wait longer. I packed and moved away to Geochang.

    A few days later, the sister came to my house with some food, but she was shocked to see that I was vacant as well as a pot in the kitchen. Upon hearing that I went to Geochang, she came straight to Geochang. It was a market day, so I went out to the market area to witness. I would sing hymns, and when people were gathered, I would yell out to preach the Word, and give out flyers. As I was witnessing, I met the sister on the street. We were so happy. On the street where everybody could see, I stopped the bicycle and prayed. It would have been wonderful to buy lunch and eat, but we were not in the circumstance to do that. So I had a fellowship with her and sent her away.

    “If you are not there, then how am I going to live a spiritual life by myself?”

    “Gather people and lead the Bible study. And you can preach the gospel.”

    “I can’t do that. I don’t know the Bible so well.”

    “If you start the Bible study, then God will help you.”

    “I can’t do it, minister. It’s not been long since I came from Japan, so I am not good at Korean. . . .”

    “Just start having the Bible study. God will help. Why wouldn’t He help you?”

    “But, I really can’t do it?”

    “It would be difficult, but you should do it for your own spiritual life. God will surely help you.”

    From Geochang to Apgok-dong, it is about 15 kilometers distant, and it only takes about 10 to 20 minutes by car today, but it was a far distance back then to go back and forth by walking. On top of that, while walking on the road, we had to avoid the cars. Since pebbles would splatter, and the mud would splash all over the place after rain, coming to Geochang was a tiresome work. So, I thought, “I should not leave her the way she is,” so I strongly recommended her to do the Bible study.

     

    One night, I went to Apgok-dong by bus, and peeked in to see how Sister Sohn was leading the Bible study at her house. In a small room that was made out of piled-up stones, she lit a kerosene lamp and had a meeting with about 10 kids. Looking at children’s hymn written on the back of the calendar, they sang songs out of tune, and then she preached the Word. Everything seemed so clumsy that I had the heart, “Could it work out this way?” I returned to Geochang without telling her that I had come.

    Nevertheless, God had done a lot of works through the sister. While a lady was looking for her child, she happened to get to the sister’s house and listen to the Word through the window; she was touched by the Word and received salvation as she shared the Word. As people started to receive salvation one by one, some elderly people from next to Apgok-dong called, “Gwonbin” started to persecute her. “Hey, are you going to continue to spread that Western religion that we don’t believe here?” All the elderly people from the village gathered and “judged” her as they told her to sit there. In Apgok-dong, there were especially a lot of demons, so every household believed in superstition. The sister testified that God had given her wisdom to defeat the words of the elders.

    Through Sister Sohn, many people who were demon-possessed were healed, and many people who received salvation arose. Especially, Brother Jung-ho Park was dying of tuberculosis, but he was healed through her witnessing and prayer and received salvation. Also, his younger brother Hee-jin Park, who was abandoned by his family due to his tuberculosis, also heard the gospel from the sister and received salvation. Eventually, he became healed from the disease and became a pastor later. I cannot express the thankful heart in words when I think about the works that God had done through the sister.

    (An excerpt from With the Gospel to the Ends, with the Lord to the Last by Pastor Ock Soo Park)

     

     

     

     

     

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